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When is the atypical design not penalized? Moderating role of product innovativeness and technological sophistication in consumer’s evaluation of new products

Sangwon Lee (Department of Marketing, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA)

American Journal of Business

ISSN: 1935-5181

Article publication date: 24 October 2019

Issue publication date: 5 November 2019

197

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the individual and joint effects of the two design dimensions, form design and functional design, and moderating role of product innovativeness and technological sophistication in consumer’s evaluation of new products. Employing theoretical underpinnings from categorization theory, this paper investigates two major research questions. First, what type of form is more advantageous for a radically new product or an incrementally new product? Second, is there an individual difference in consumer evaluations to innovative products with various form designs?

Design/methodology/approach

One pre-test and three between-subject experiments were performed. In Experiments 1 and 2, a two-way between-group ANOVA analysis was performed to examine the effect of form and the degree of technological innovation on attitude toward the product using different product categories (car and camera). In Experiment 3, a three-way between-group ANOVA analysis was performed to explore the impact of form, the degree of technological innovation and consumer technological sophistication on attitude toward the product.

Findings

The results from the three experiments conducted demonstrate that, first, whereas the form design for incremental innovations must be closer to the incumbent products for favorable evaluations, less typical form is evaluated as good as a more typical form for radical innovations. Second, form design of an innovative product matters more to the technologically more sophisticated consumers (experts).

Originality/value

This paper extends the previous design literature and fills the gap of under-researched area by demonstrating that individual difference, technological sophistication, moderates the design effect on consumer evaluation of innovation; providing boundary condition of when the atypical form is not penalized in spite of consumer’s perceived learning cost; examining how the form and function interplay in “high-status product”; and demonstrating how to strengthen the reliability and validity by replicating the study. Managerially, this paper demonstrates that innovating firms can influence the perceived value of new products using form and functionality, and marketing managers who launch really new products have strategic freedom of choosing own product design.

Keywords

Citation

Lee, S. (2019), "When is the atypical design not penalized? Moderating role of product innovativeness and technological sophistication in consumer’s evaluation of new products", American Journal of Business, Vol. 34 No. 3/4, pp. 169-188. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJB-06-2018-0035

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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